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How Do You Get a New Medicare Card?

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Just the Essentials...

  • Your Medicare card is essential to receive coverage from physicians, and there is no cost to replace it.

  • To order a new card, contact Social Security online, in person, by phone or mail. For many, the SSA website offers the quickest method.

  • For those starting Medicare due to disability, your card arrives shortly before you’ve reached two years of disability benefits.

  • If your Medicare card seems late to arrive, bear in mind that Social Security may take 30 days to print and send new cards.

Who benefits from Medicare?

As a Medicare beneficiary, your Medicare red, white and blue card is one piece of identification you will surely need.

When receiving health services covered by Medicare, the card proves that Medicare insures you.

With such importance for both you and your healthcare providers, knowing when to expect your Medicare card in the mail bears importance as well.

On average, it takes 30 days to get a new Medicare card, but there is no cost to replace it.

Many find that the quickest way to get a new Medicare card uses Social Security’s online service called my Social Security. This free online SSA service also helps you access your Medicare information and check on Social Security income benefits.

While you wait for your card, you can use my Social Security to get your Medicare number for health appointments. Otherwise, you can request that Social Security sends you a letter proving your Medicare coverage. These letters arrive after about 10 days.

Of course, you’ll also need your card to get a Medicare health plan, which can offer benefits beyond the ability of Medicare by itself. Enter your ZIP above and compare Medicare plans in your state for free to make sure you have the right plan for you!

Individuals Already Receiving Retirement Benefits

If you receive income benefits for at least four months when you become eligible for Medicare, you enroll automatically. Typically with this scenario of automatic enrollment, becoming eligible for Medicare happens when aging-in at 65 years old.

Namely, Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board benefits qualify in these situations. Likewise, you would also automatically receive your red, white, and blue card in the mail.

For automatic Medicare enrollments, your card should arrive by mail within three months before your coverage starts.

Typically, automatic sign-up deducts monthly premiums from the qualifying income benefits. Of course, there are other payment options as well, such as Medicare’s Easy Pay.

Individuals Receiving Disability Benefits

How do you get a new Medicare card?

If you are under age 65 while receiving Social Security or RRB disability benefits, you automatically enroll after 24 months. With that, your Medicare card arrives by the 25th month after you received your first disability Social Security check.

However, certain exceptions shorten the time before Medicare starts.

At any age, people diagnosed with either Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) or kidney failure qualify for Medicare shortly after diagnosis.

For patients with Lou Gehrig’s disease, Medicare coverage begins automatically. In these cases, Medicare Parts A and B start the month disability benefits begin. The coverage takes effect immediately, but the card may still take 30 days to arrive by mail.

If a patient needs proof of coverage before a new card can arrive, Social Security can provide a letter within 10 business days.

For those wishing to save time spent in-person or on the phone with Social Security, the SSA website offers a service called my Social Security.

Individuals diagnosed with kidney failure, called end-stage renal disease (ESRD), do not enroll automatically in Medicare.

If you become eligible for Medicare following ESRD diagnosis, your coverage can start up to 12 months before you actually applied.

Although Medicare quickly approves benefits for patients with ESRD, your card may still take 30 days to arrive.

Enrollment isn’t Typically Automatic for People Turning 65

How do you get a new Medicare card? - Medicare Enrollment Form

It’s important to realize not everyone enrolls automatically in Medicare. In fact, most people have to sign up themselves.

If you are turning 65 and not yet receiving retirement benefits, you will need to contact Social Security to enroll in Medicare Part APart B, or both.

The Social Security Administration handles Medicare enrollments and provides Medicare cards. However, railroad retirement beneficiaries will need to apply through the Railroad Retirement Board.

To avoid late fees and lack of coverage, enroll in Medicare Parts A and B during your initial enrollment period (IEP).

Your IEP spans three full months before your 65th birthday, includes your full birthday month, and lasts three full months after. However, the date your coverage begins depends on whether you apply before or after your birthday month begins.

For Americans aging into Medicare, the month of your 65th birthday is the earliest your coverage can start, although birthdates on the 1st can start their coverage as early as one month prior.

The best way to get your card on time when starting Medicare is to apply during the first three months of your initial election period.

The drawbacks of applying for Medicare in the final three months of your seven-month IEP are a later start to your coverage and later arrival of your Medicare card. No matter when you apply for Medicare coverage, you should receive your official card within 30 days of approval.

Medicare Part C and Part D Insurance Cards

The information mentioned above only refers to Medicare Parts A and B. If you are expecting a Medicare Part C or Part D card, the process is a bit different.

Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) and Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) insurance cards are issued by private insurance companies. The benefits for this coverage are managed by the private carrier, as opposed to the government-run Medicare system.

With that being said, the cards for Medicare C and D plans will look different than Medicare’s red, white, and blue card. Your Medicare Advantage or Part D plan membership card should arrive about two weeks after you apply for your plan.

Traditionally, the Medicare C or D card will include the name of the private insurer, the name of the plan, as well as your policy number and effective date.

Your Medicare health plan card bears the same importance as your red, white, and blue Medicare card.  If you enroll in a Medicare health plan like Medicare Advantage, Part D, or Medigap, then keep its card with you at all times.

If you need to replace your card for your health plan, then contact the carrier offering your plan, or the agency that helped you enroll. As with Medicare cards from the government, there is no cost to replace your plan membership card.

What to Do if You Don’t Receive Your Medicare Card

How do you get a new Medicare card?

If you don’t receive your Medicare card by mail and you think you should have, don’t delay in confirming why. Many times, beneficiaries believe they should have received their card, but they’re not quite within the expected time frame yet. Other times, a paperwork problem delays the card from arriving.

Whatever the issue may be, it is always better to inquire than just wait and find out. Medicare fraud is a serious problem.

To prevent becoming a victim of fraud and to fix any problems with your application, it’s best to contact Social Security about your red, white and blue card if it did not arrive when you expected it to.

Amidst your day-today life, knowing you can use your Medicare health coverage offers a huge relief. On top of that, many Medicare Advantage plans exceed the benefits and coverage offered by Parts A and B alone.

Enter your zip code below to compare private Medicare providers in your state. Quickly get matched with multiple carriers and affordable coverage options with our powerful comparison tool.


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